Caramel Babka

Caramel Babka

This sweet braided bread – invented by the Jewish communities in Poland – was originally made with fruity or spiced filling, whereas this version is layered with chocolate and caramel so each bite feels rich and decadent. In case you were wondering, 'Babka' also translates as 'grandmother' in Polish.
2 loaves
Total Time
4 Hours
For the dough
1 ¾ cups & 250g of bread flour, plus more for dusting
25g of granulated sugar
For the dark Chocolate Ganache
1 tbsp + 13.5g of fresh yeast
90g of dark chocolate, chopped
¾ tsp of corn syrup
¼ cup + 2 tbsp of heavy cream
10g of butter, plus more for greasing the loaf tin
30g of almond flakes, for garnish
Milk, for brushing
30g of butter
1 egg
½ cup + 2 tbsp of water
1 tsp of salt
For the milk Chocolate Caramel
cup + 60g of milk chocolate, chopped
1.5 tsp of honey
cup + 1 tbsp + 1 tsp of heavy cream
¼ cup + 1 tsp granulated sugar
30g of butter, at room temperature
½ tsp of sea salt
Step 1

For the dough, start with a stand mixer with a hook attachment. Add the bread flour, granulated sugar, yeast, butter, egg, water and salt. Knead the dough for 8 minutes at a medium speed until it comes together well and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Perform a window-pane test on the dough by taking a small, flattened piece and gently spreading it apart with your fingers: if the dough forms a thin, even, translucent membrane without tearing, then the gluten is perfectly developed. If a clear “window” isn’t forming yet, keep kneading and checking until the dough is ready. Make sure the dough temperature always stays between 20°C and 24°C so the bread has the best flavour and an even rise.

Step 2

Dust a bowl with flour, take the dough out of the mixer and shape it into a nice smooth mound. Place it in the bowl, then cover with cling film and rest it at room temperature for an hour. Once the dough has risen, you’ll need to knock it back. Do this by firmly pressing or punching down the dough to properly distribute the air bubbles. Then place the dough on a surface dusted with flour, and roll it into a rectangle of 8in x 6in that’s half an inch thick. Transfer the dough to a tray, wrap it with cling film and keep it in the refrigerator for later.

Step 3

For the milk chocolate caramel, add the milk chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set it aside. In a saucepan, warm the honey and cream. In another saucepan, start heating the granulated sugar, stirring continuously, until it caramelises to a deep amber colour. Add the butter to the sugar to help deglaze the pan. Add in the warmed honey-cream mixture, stirring until it all comes together. Pour the mixture into the bowl containing the milk chocolate, allowing it to melt. Toss in the salt, and use a hand blender to bring it to a smooth emulsion, then refrigerate for 2 hours to get it to the right consistency.

Step 4

For the dark chocolate ganache, add the dark chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set it aside. In a saucepan, add the corn syrup and cream, and heat it to a simmer. Then, pour the heated mixture into the bowl containing the dark chocolate, and allow it to melt. Mix well, and let it cool to room temperature. Add in the butter at the end, and use a hand blender to get a nice smooth ganache.

Step 5

Time for assembly. Grease the loaf tin with butter. Spread a layer of chocolate ganache on the dough within 1.3cm of the edges. Then use a piping bag to drizzle milk chocolate caramel all over the ganache, and roll the dough along the longer side into a log. Wrap this in cling film and freeze for an hour to get the dough a little firmer. Now use a small sharp knife to cut along the centre of the log lengthwise, so you get two long halves with the layers exposed. Twist the halves together to form a braid, and place it into the prepared loaf tin. Leave it to proof in a bread fermentation box at 26°C and 60% humidity, or place it in a switched-off oven with a bowl of hot water. Proofing usually takes about 2 hours; you’ll know it’s just right when the dough has doubled in size.

Step 6

While the dough is proofing, soak some almond flakes in a bowl of water to get them ready for baking. Once the bread is proofed, brush a layer of milk over the surface, and sprinkle the almond flakes on top. Also preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until it turns a perfect golden brown.

Step 7

This beautiful layered babka is ready to serve up nice and warm. You can store it wrapped at room temperature for up to a day.

Recipe Courtesy Of New-School Sweets by Vinesh Johny and Andrés Lara, Page Street Publishing Co. 2021. Photo credit: Manek D’Silva

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